Medicine Essays – English..

A Myopic Chronicle of the English Vaudeville.

The condition ‘Music Hall’ is secondhand to name to a locale, or to a shape of amusement fetching berth at that locus, typically featuring a figure of mixed acts, maybe including melodic turns, funniness and stunting, in a comparatively formalistic syllabus. It is besides oft termed ‘variety’.

This test considers the other roots of Vaudeville, its development in the later Nineteenth hundred, and its subsequent departure of popularity in the cheek of rival from early media in the Twentieth hundred. Interpreted into explanation are the socio-economic surroundings and besides the developing of melodic styles inside the Vaudeville setting. It volition be shown that the shape of Vaudeville is silence far-flung in pop polish now.


Vaudeville highly-developed from a orbit of entertainments, about of which had been office of English civilization for centuries.

Broadsides kickoff appeared in the 1500s (Gammond 1991: 82): they were an former eq of the paper. Word stories and irony were printed in poem with the instructions ‘To the strain of…’, with the purpose that the schoolbook should be sung to a long-familiar theme, typically a folk-ballad. The euphony itself was seldom printed, then broadsides relied on the custom of pass tunes on orally. In afterward broadsides, tunes were oftentimes pop songs from plays, with the intent of promoting shows reciprocally for sponsorship – an other configuration of ad gross. The lay was engrained in refinement, but the need and resources of the populus were not yet sufficient to reinforcement the growing of a functioning industriousness.

Besides influential were the many fairs which were trading and amusement events. In his journal, Samuel Pepys mentions attendance Bartholomew Bonnie in 1000 six 100 threescore one and “seeing the monkeys dance” (Pepys 1661), and a numeral of Euphony Halls in the former Nineteenth 100 featured brute acts (Gillies 1999: 31).

One-woman shows, such as those offered by Charles Dibdin (1745-1814), display elements of amusement that were after highly-developed in Euphony Halls. Dibdin can be seen as a key connection betwixt originally folk-art traditions and the progressively commercialized melodic mankind of the Nineteenth c (Gammond 1991: 153-5). He was a fecund song-writer, who had considerable achiever with igniter operas and by merchandising rights to his songs. These were the youth of copyright law, which highly-developed in the recent Nineteenth 100 first to accord exclusivity of functioning rights to singers and afterward to essence a royalties organization for composers.

Two types of locale preceded Euphony Halls and had a special mold on them: taverns and song-and-supper suite. In taverns, a wage-earning patronage participated in tattle on with their imbibition. In song-and-supper suite, the middle-class corinthian (no women were admitted) could savour a repast patch singers diverted. Song-and-supper suite typically open round midnight, and amusement could be ribald.

Roughly of the other stars of Vaudeville began their careers in taverns and song-and-supper suite. Sam Cowell (1820-1864) is an exercise, and can be considered one of the get-go pro singer-songwriters. By 1850, he was earning a full life from the song-and-supper suite, but had begun his calling as an doer and had likewise performed in opera. In ‘Villikins and his Dinah’, regularly performed by Cowell, we see characteristics that were to suit far-flung in Vaudeville songs, particularly the use of ‘commentary’ ‘tween sections of the birdsong to addition its play. Thusly anterior to rhyme 8, where the ghosts of Villikins and Dinah look to Dinah’s begetter, the performer sets the panorama:

“Now this is the superlatively occult wisitation [sic] which appeared to the parient [sic] at midnight afterwards the disease of his lone offspring.”
(Davison 1971: 23)

The affectations in the words and orthoepy intimate the introduction of the storyteller as a fibre in his own correct, and word-painting is another authoritative component of the Vaudeville strain, as leave be seen presently.

The growing of Vaudeville was contingent an consultation able-bodied to invite it, and with an interestingness in what it had to propose. The ontogeny of a likely marketplace is apparent by the mid-19th 100, when a turn of Medicine Halls were open (Sadie 1980: XII/832). In the mid-1840s, Evans’, a one-time song-and-supper way was reopened as a Vaudeville. In 1849, Charles Morton, a trailblazer of Vaudeville, took concluded the Canterbury Munition in Lambeth and highly-developed it as a locale. He exaggerated it in 1856, and in grand eighter century threescore one open the Oxford Vaudeville in Oxford Street (Sadie 1980: XII/832). This mind of having a strand of venues gained priming in the latter contribution of the 100.

Betimes Developments 1850-1870

The 1850s and 60s can be considered as a low form of Vaudeville. Programmes were wide-ranging, with classic and pop euphony appearance on the like pecker. Extracts from Gounod’s opera Faust (1859) performed in Medicine Halls provided the kickoff hearings of the workplace for English audiences.

A issue of betimes Vaudeville songs use old melodious themes with new texts: e.g., ‘Sam Hall’ can be traced rear to a lay astir Skipper Kidd. Chivy Clifton’s ‘Polly Perkins of Paddington Green’ (1863) uses what appears to be a folk-tune (maybe ‘Nightingales Sing’), but its lyrics own a wit not seen in folk: Polly doesn’t wed a ‘Wicount’ or a ‘Nearl’, but in the punchline of the vocal, weds a “bow-legged Director of a two-a-penny bus” (Gammond 1991: 411). The like strain is put-upon for another long-familiar Vaudeville vocal, ‘Cushie Butterfield’, which was especially pop in the Newcastle domain. Tyneside had its own stiff Vaudeville custom, freehanded upgrade to songs such as ‘The Blaydon Races’ and ‘Keep Your Feet Silence Geordie Hinney’ and all trey songs expose a standardised witticism to ‘Polly Perkins’. The lyrics haulage on local accent – Cushie is “a unseasoned lassie in Gyetsid [Gateshead]” who “likes hor beor [her beer]” (Davison 1971: 31).

With ‘Champagne Charlie’ (1868), the exploitation of the role vocal is unmistakable. Performed and co-written by George Leybourne, the Bubbly Charlie part is described as a ‘swell’: a well-heeled playboy with a perceptiveness for Moët. Dissimilar ‘Villikins’, the textbook is in the beginning soul, Leybourne seemly the Bubbly Charlie part in operation. The call is maybe the offset advertisement jangle, and was exploited to elevate Moët, with Leybourne rumoured to fond to the drunkenness (he died untimely of drunkenness). His pay at this clock was round £30 a workweek – sure capable coddle in the Bubbly Charlie life-style. Nonetheless, the part was an act: Leybourne was not a ‘toff’, but a onetime car-mechanic who remained nonreader and rundle with a firm Lightlessness Land idiom (Gammond 1991: 334)

Care was maturation concluded the activities in Euphony Halls. Articles in The Hatchet center the lineament of the amusement: it had been suggested that the Vaudeville would “exercise a good determine concluded the procession of medicine amongst the glower classes” but “Music Hall…is wicked to the art which it pretends to uphold” (Anonymous 1867).  At the meter, advance of the functional classes done entree to the humanities was promoted among approximately thinkers. Two geezerhood afterwards, Medicine Halls are criticised for beingness dens of frailty: “I am positively assured…that on sure recognized nights unleash women are admitted to these places without defrayment.” (Greenwood 1869). The ofttimes pathetic repute of the Medicine Halls contributed to posterior attempts by the government to govern their activities.

Bloom 1870-1900

The developing of Euphony Halls should be seen in circumstance of wider developments in the sociable and economical environs of Straight-laced England. Chase the Industrial Gyration, workers migrated from rural communities to cities, and this rule accelerated in the 1870s. By the mid-1880s, some one-half the universe of London had been natural elsewhere (Harris 1994: 42-3).
Simultaneously, leisure increased. In the later 1860s, a half-day vacation was introduced on a Saturday, and in the 1870s, the 9-hour workday was introduced (Harris 1994: 139). Leisure became a bigger office of sprightliness for the functional classes, and Vaudeville was one action that benefited from this.

Imbibing had perpetually formed an component of the Vaudeville amusement, but the regnant classes had sought-after to ascendence this. In 1878, London County Council qualified the expenditure of booze to the backrest of the halls (Sadie 1980: XII/833), too demanding that a forestage implike and ardour pall be installed at all venues (thither had been a issue of fires at Euphony Halls). A figure of littler operators were strained to close, spell the bigger operators reinforced up irons of venues, with Euphony Halls development in sizing and routine. In June 1888, a Theater of Lords fence quoted a number of cd lxx 3 Medicine Halls in London unique (Gillies 1999: 23).

Bigger halls meant that roughly of the involvement of earliest venues was helpless. Alternatively of a Chair introducing acts and enjoying kid with the consultation, venues identified performers by use of an indicant table, with apiece act having a issue. Therein surroundings of bigger audiences, the about successful performers were capable to mastery material fees, and roughly became internationally renowned.

Capable this period, Vaudeville stars had been well-nigh solely manly, but from roughly 1880, women appeared regularly at Euphony Halls and were among the virtually successful Vaudeville stars. Marie Lloyd is plausibly the topper known: by 1891, she was appearance at respective venues apiece nighttime and earning £100 a hebdomad. At this clock, a 2-up, 2-down family in Oldham toll £150-180 (Harris 1994: 113). In 1911, xx eld subsequently,  sole fair ended 2% of the universe earned ended £160 in a twelvemonth (Harris 1994: 107). In relative footing, consequently, Lloyd’s profits were on a par with a Premiership footballer nowadays. In her betimes calling, she infamously hide befoul of playacting rights by adopting ‘The Boy I Honey Is Up In The Gallery’ as a key birdcall in her repertory, and she is calm powerfully associated with it. Still, Nelly Ability, another vocalist of the day, had scoop functioning rights for the birdcall, and Lloyd was strained to block telling it (Gillies 1999: xviii et al).

At this metre, sole tie with a item vocal enabled a performer to give bookings, as nonentity else was allowed to execute it. Songwriters sold a strain with acting rights to a vocaliser, and were thenceforth not entitled to any foster income. They relied on authorship more songs on the like footing, but campaigned for foster payments and the royalties arrangement of now highly-developed. 

Mime was too an exit for Vaudeville stars, who would look tattle the songs for which they were well-nigh notable. This had a unsounded charm on the ontogenesis of mime, with traditional characters such as Harlequin and Aquilegia dropped in prefer of interpretations of fagot tales reinforced roughly the Vaudeville personalities and their repertoires.

The euphony publication diligence had grownup aboard the growing of Euphony Halls. By the 1830s, songs such as ‘He was such a skillful unseasoned man’ and ‘All bout my hat’ (a phratry strain) were produced purchasable at Pleasance Gardens or song-and-supper suite. The euphony catalogues of publishers typically included a grasp of stuff including songs, operatic arias, hymns and dances. Charles Sheard was publication Vaudeville cloth from round grand 8 100 50 two as parting of its Melodious Sweetness serial (Gammond 1991: 410). From 1850-1900, the toll of a softly dropped and roughly manufacturers introduced monthly defrayment schemes, devising the tool more approachable (Gillies 1991: 66). This helped the Vaudeville songs get hard engrained in the pop melodic polish of the metre.

Songs had an air of reputability approximately them until round 1860, astern which many started to show more grossness. This was calm insidious by bodoni standards: Dan Leno’s earmark vocal ‘The Swim Master’ (by Herbert Darnley) makes lots of the motivation for corporeal tangency with the ladies organism taught to drown – if they flavour they’re sinking, so “To my virile dresser they cling” (Davison 1971:69) – but goes no encourage than proposition.

About venues reduced the classic constituent of their medicine programmes. Devil (1879) comments that “the operatic selections which were once the distinguishing lineament of the Oxford suffer latterly days been discontinued”, and manifest from Vaudeville programmes from this sentence forward shows a center democratic idioms. Withal, over-the-counter Euphony Halls continued to pass what mightiness be considered as more ‘highbrow’ amusement. The Alhambra in Leicester Foursquare specialized in ballet, and Evans’ in Covent Garden offered “songs, glees, and contribution songs, executed by a well-trained choir” (Anonymous 1867). The ballets at the Alhambra continued to leastwise the routine of the c and it besides arranged a bit of operettas.

Declination 1900-1920

In its youth, Vaudeville had been seen as a mostly low-class amusement. In the former Xix, it gained reputability, with knighthoods for approximately of its key personalities and the offset Majestic Control Execution, featuring Vaudeville acts, pickings billet in g ennead century xii (Sadie 1980: XII/833).

A turn of developments led to the downslope of Euphony Halls. In 1914, feeding and imbibition in the auditorium was prohibited (Gammond 1991: cd ennead et al) and Medicine Halls effectively became theatres. Many continued to go seasons of kind performances, and thither was silence large concern in the amusement, but it was now needed to contend with new media: low the film, so tuner. New medicine styles such as bed were likewise gaining in popularity. Its shape is unmistakable in about afterwards Vaudeville songs: ‘Lily of Laguna’ (1898) uses syncope and describes an idealized man of African Americans support in the Southerly States of the US. Its use of lyric such as ‘nigger’ and ‘coon’ would be considered unsavoury tod, but reflects the rattling dissimilar posture to run at the metre (Davison 1971: 95). The vocal was scripted by the English songster Leslie Stuart for Eugene Stratton, an American performer who appeared regularly ‘blacked up’ : this rehearse was far-flung inside the Vaudeville, and continued for many eld with The Black-and-white Minstrels a pop TV establish as tardy as the Seventies.

By the Forties, Vaudeville had mostly disappeared. Gramophones provided melodic amusement in the plate. The stars of kind diversified: Gracie Fields highly-developed foremost a movie vocation so focussed on tuner broadcasts in add-on to appearances in diversity (Gammond 1991: 189), and George Formby appeared in a figure of films likewise as chronic the employment of his founder (besides George Formby, a pop sort vocaliser at the bit of the c) in Purple Mastery performances and otc revues (Gammond 1991: 203).

The Bequest of the Vaudeville

The mold of the Vaudeville is hush lots plain in British civilization. It played a major contribution in the growing of stand-up funniness, and the Clowning Nightclub, which has seen a revitalization in late days with irons such as Jongleurs, owes an obvious debt to the Vaudeville custom.

The variety featured regularly on TV comfortably into the Seventies on shows such as ‘The Effective Old Days’, and the yearbook Imperial Bidding Execution, with a orbit of acts, is silence televised. Pantomimes too boast many characteristics of those in the belatedly Nineteenth c, with TV personalities fetching the roles that Vaudeville celebrities enjoyed a c geezerhood ago.

The melodious styles seen in Vaudeville uphold to mold artists. ‘Obladi, Oblada’ (Lennon and McCartney, recorded by the Beatles 1968) features a fourline versify with sequence-based melodies and a uncomplicated forbear, with a demarcation recurrent, redolent of the choruses inviting consultation involution in Vaudeville. More lately, Blur’s ‘Parklife’ (1994) uses the construct of performer fetching on a personality, with club- and concert-goers connection in with the ‘Parklife’ motive at the end of apiece contrast, practically care a Vaudeville interview would birth coupled in with choruses.
Vaudeville should hence be seen not equitable as a ethnic phenomenon in its own veracious, but as a growth in a farsighted chronicle of democratic birdsong and amusement.

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Davison, Putz (1971) Songs of the British Vaudeville (Oak Publications, New York)
Devil, Charles Jnr (1879) Devil Lexicon of London ‘Music Halls’, reproduced on
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Frow, Gerald (1985) Oh Yes It Is! A Story of Mime (BBC, London)
Gillies, Midge (1999) Marie Lloyd: The Nonpareil (Gollancz, London)
Gammond, Prick (1991) The Oxford Fellow to Democratic Euphony (Oxford University Crush, Oxford)
Harding, James (1990) George Robey and the Vaudeville (Hodder and Stoughton, London)
Harris, Jose (1994) Secret Lives, Populace Intent: Britain 1870-1914 (Penguin, London)
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Middleton, Richard (1990) Perusing Democratic Euphony (Unfold University, Milton Keynes)
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Sadie, Stanley (1980) New Orchard Lexicon of Euphony and Musicians Vol. Dozen pp831-834 (McMillan, London)
Thompson, F M L (1988) The Hike of Goodish Company: A Sociable Chronicle of Traubner, Richard (1984) Operetta: A Histrionics Account (Gollancz, London)
Square-toed Britain 1830-1900 (Fontana, London)
Waites, Bernard, Bennett, Tony and Martin, Graham (Eds.) (1982) Democratic Refinement: Yesteryear and Nowadays (Croom Helm, London, in Tie-up with the Unfold University)
Weightman, Gavin (2003) What the Industrial Gyration Did for Us (BBC, London)


  • Anonymous (1867) Extracts from ‘The Hatchet, Fourteenth and 21 September 1867 
  • Devil, Charles Jnr (1879) ‘Music Halls’ from Dickens’s Lexicon of London
  • Greenwood, James (1869) The Sevener Curses of London

  • Pepys, Samuel (1661) Journal excerption from Thirty-one Lordly 1661


Obscure ‘Parklife’ (From the album ‘Parklife’, 1994, Nutrient Records)
The Beatles ‘Obladi, Oblada’ (From the Tweed Album, 1968, Parlophone)

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